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David Cohen June 15, 2022

The Difference Between an Alcohol and Marijuana Dui in Pennsylvania

We all know that driving under the influence of alcohol carries serious penalties in every state in the U.S., including Pennsylvania. (Still, 1.5 million of us nationwide are arrested for drunk driving every year.) Less well-known is that drivers in Pennsylvania can also face DUI charges for driving under the influence of marijuana.

Pennsylvania DUI Laws

The first part of Pennsylvania's DUI statute defines DUI as driving, operating, or being in control of a vehicle after ingesting enough alcohol to result in: 

  • A blood-alcohol level over .08% within two hours of driving a vehicle, or 

  • Impairment is “such that the individual is rendered incapable of safely driving, operating or being in actual physical control of the movement of the vehicle.”

Subsequent sections of the statute, however, expand the definition to include driving under the influence of controlled substances—which includes marijuana. 

Marijuana DUI

The rules outlined by the Pennsylvania DUI statute are different for alcohol and marijuana. While an alcohol DUI requires a high blood-alcohol level or evidence of impairment, you don't have to be impaired to be charged with a marijuana DUI. This is true even for marijuana consumed for medical purposes under a doctor's supervision.

This is because Pennsylvania is one of a handful of states that have adopted “per se” marijuana DUI laws. Under a “per se” law, you can face a DUI for driving under the influence if you have any amount of marijuana over one nanogram per milliliter in your system. According to the statute:

An individual may not drive, operate or be in actual physical control of the movement of a vehicle under any of the following circumstances:

(1) There is in the individual's blood any amount of a:

(i) Schedule I controlled substance, as defined in the act of April 14, 1972 (P.L.233, No.64), known as The Controlled Substance, Drug, Device, and Cosmetic Act.

Marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance. The DUI statute creates an extremely low threshold intended to include anyone with any amount of marijuana in their system.

Hire an Experienced Pennsylvania DUI Lawyer

If you're facing a DUI because of suspected alcohol or drug use, you need the guidance of a skilled criminal defense lawyer. Attorney David Cohen is an experienced DUI lawyer and has been protecting the rights of his Pennsylvania clients for years. He can help you too. Contact us online or call us at (484) 948-1963 to schedule a consultation. 


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